The Deputy Director-General of Fisheries (the DDG), Ms Apelgren-Nakardien, was full of bluster during her press briefing last week - which Feike was refused access to. Although the press invitation states that "all media" were invited, once Feike confirmed its attendance, we were told that only "accredited" journalists and media could attend. They refused to explain who accredited the media and journalists who would be permitted entry. This Mugabeisque strategy was clearly an indication of cowardice as many "unaccredited" journalists and members of the media were allowed to attend.
The DDG blamed Feike and the opposition for the department's various woes as published on our BLOG and in the various media over the past few months. She insisted that despite her lack of fisheries management skills and experience, she is more than capable to lead a specialist government department like the Fisheries Branch. The DDG for example stated that she has led various government departments and NGO's over the past 25 years. It may be worth pointing out (again) that during her last stint as the Head of Department of the Northern Cape housing and traditional affairs department (unrelated to fish by the way but this is not important), it has been reported that Ms Apelgren failed to achieve 78% of her department's own targets.
Be that as it may, the DDG however blindly insisted that despite the fact that the fisheries department had not even kept to its own timetable presented to Parliament last year October, they would still be able to allocate fishing rights timeously by September 2013. We have explained in previous articles on this BLOG why fishing rights simply cannot be allocated within the constraints of our laws this year or even before the first quarter of next year.
However, if the DDG insists on hurtling to the edge of the cliff at break-neck speed (albeit with the fishing industry tied to her waist), we are duty-bound to monitor adherence to the milestones she has set in the amended timetable she handed out to the media last week.
Milestone 1: Appointment of service providers to review policies and administer and "operationalise" long term fishing rights process. This is supposed to have occurred in March 2013. Not done yet. See our previous BLOG article for more on this milestone.
Milestone 2: Public consultation process on policies during March and April 2013. Not wanting to sound too critical, but how can there be a public consultation process on policies during March and April when the service provider charged with reviewing the current policies will only be appointed in March? And then, once the service provider completes the review, there will need to be internal departmental discussions and debates on the review and the current policy-framework will then need to be amended, approved by the Minister and then gazetted for public comment. Again, not to be too critical, but this took 8 months back in 2004 when the last long term fishing rights process was being developed. The DDG reckons that this entire complex policy review process will be completed in about 30 days?
(Of course, the DDG may point out that that last process was not led by her uber-super efficient team who will not get waylaid by unnecessary details involving 'fisheries'. Afterall the previous long term rights allocation process was led by inter alia, fisheries and administrative lawyers and a former Norwegian fisheries minister who is a complete stickler for perfection and really people, how hard can it be to read a couple of policies over the weekend on line fish, squid, demersal shark, prawn trawl, delete the old stuff and the stuff you dont like and insert some new nice sounding stuff?)
Seriously though, it is quite difficult for us to swallow this nonsense the department calls its "proposed road map" for the allocation of long term fishing rights especially since Milestone 1 has been missed and Milestone 2 is already impossible to achieve unless the DDG is able to manipulate the time-space continuum.